Tomas Vu and Sara Zielinski
March 24, 2013, 2:00pm
Columbia University, New York, NY
Sara Zielinski: How did your idea for this project come about?
Tomas Vu: Well, I met Patricia and Jean-Claude in my studio and Patricia asked me to consider doing something with Annual magazine. At first I hesitated because I wasn’t sure about taking on a project of this scope. I told them that I’d really have to think about it. I don’t mind being interviewed but here I was being asked to curate a section of the book and I was weary of doing another version of this traditional model of the artist interview conducted by a critic or curator or art historian. I talked to Jennifer about this project and was intrigued by the idea of two artists in conversation. So I started thinking about this idea of intimacy.
Sara: Tell me a bit about your interest in this idea of intimacy.
Tomas: So the idea revolves around intimacy and the conversations that take place between artists behind closed doors and in private daily conversations. I’ve found that some of the most evocative exchanges about art are those that take place among artists in private, and I decided this would be an interesting concept for my contribution to Annual. You know when you’re having dinner with your friends, and, as the night goes on, ideas develop and it reaches a really interesting point where we forget about art, and it becomes very free and we just start talking about ideas? Afterwards I always say, “oh, I wish we had that recorded.” I saw this as an opportunity to finally do some of that recording.
Sara: Absolutely, I know that feeling. What, specifically, do you feel is gained in a conversation between two artists in a relationship that we don’t necessarily get in a conversation between, say, an artist and a critic?
Tomas: Truth. It’s hard to bullshit someone you’re intimate with. They know you and you know them so honest answers come out. Exposure to these honest moments provides a special perspective on these artists.
Sara: Did you have artist couples in mind as you developed these ideas?
Tomas: Yeah, I did. Once I made a commitment to the idea of the couples, the next questions to think about revolved around the global perspective. How broad can I push this and how many artist couples are from different kind of locations, not just here – whatever “here” is. Each person comes from a different region of the world and their own unique background.I was interested in including artists whose perspectives draw from a variety of nationalities, political ideologies, and disciplines. I feel that we seven couples together accomplish that range.
Sara: Did you feel at all like an intruder into the couples’ lives when you asked them to participate in this project?
Tomas: No, because the artists had absolute freedom to do whatever they wanted; there was no expectation. I didn’t really want to curate the conversations or have any input in the content for these pages. All I asked was for them to list the time and location of their conversations. The couples were free to do whatever they wanted with their pages. They could have been in bed having sex for all I care. And I wish one of the couples had done that! [Laughs]